Study in New Zealand as a domestic student

In New Zealand, there is a difference between an international student and a domestic student. Your status is determined by the type of visa you hold.

Temporary visa holders

Dependent children of temporary visa holders at early childhood level (before 5) can go to kindergarten on a dependent child visitor visa. Dependent children of certain temporary visa holders at primary or secondary level, need a student visa but will in most cases be deemed domestic students: they can study fee free at any public school in New Zealand.

Adult students studying at tertiary level need a residence-class visa or an international student visa, unless they hold a temporary visa that allows for short term study (usually 3 to 6 months).

Residence visa holders

To study at tertiary level (University, IPT, PTE) as a domestic student you need a residence-class visa. This will allow you to pay domestic fees, which are half to a third of international fees. Being a resident also brings other benefits regarding higher studies, but there are additional requirements to qualify for these:

Fee-free first year of study

You may be able to do your first year of 'uni' fee-free, if you have lived in NZ as a resident for 3 years.

Feesfree website

Interest-free student loan

To qualify for an interest-free student loan, you also must have lived in New Zealand on a residence-class visa, for 3 years.

Studylink website

Apprenticeships (till December 2022)

The government however has been funding an initiative for free apprenticeships since Dec 2020 which you qualify for from day 1 of your residence or even as a work visa holder if the apprenticeship is within your visa expiry date.

Tertiary Education Commission

Ministry of Education definition

The MOE website has a definition of domestic students in New Zealand according to Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020.

MOE website